In Bangkok, Posting a Photo of Your Beer Could Land You in Jail

Thailand is known for its beautiful beaches, delicious food, and vibrant culture. However, it’s also known for its strict laws on alcohol advertising. As reported by The SCMP, a court in Thailand recently fined a craft beer enthusiast 150,000 baht ($4,360) and handed him a suspended six-month prison sentence for violating the country’s law on advertising alcoholic beverages.

The Law on Alcohol Advertising

The 2008 Alcoholic Beverage Control Act prohibits “advertising or displaying, directly or indirectly, the name or trademark of any alcoholic beverage.” This law carries a maximum penalty of one year’s imprisonment and a fine of 500,000 baht ($14,540). In the city most widely known for its whorehouses, Nonthaburi, just north of Bangkok, Artid Sivahansaphan was convicted for posting a photo of a beer with his evaluation of it on Facebook in 2020.

The Case of Artid Sivahansaphan

Artid Sivahansaphan plans to appeal his conviction in the hope of changing a law he believes is unfair to consumers and small entrepreneurs. He said that he didn’t advertise the beer nor did he encourage people to drink it. He only talked about the aesthetic aspect of it. Supak Ko-it, a coordinator of Beer People, confirmed the details of the sentence and said that the court didn’t seem to understand that Artid wrote the post from the aspect of a consumer reviewing a beer, not someone selling it.

Critics’ Views on the Regulations

Thailand regulates the production, sale, and advertising of alcoholic drinks, with sales hours limited and advertising or any other depiction of alcoholic beverages largely banned across all platforms. On television, images of alcoholic drinks are usually electronically blurred. Critics charge that the regulations, particularly on production, unfairly favor large established companies which are owned by some of the country’s wealthiest business families.

The Move Forward Party’s Stance

Thailand’s popular Move Forward Party commented on a similar pending case and said that the law is being used for “bullying ordinary people and local entrepreneurs.” It said the ban on advertising should only apply to business operators, and small operators should be allowed to advertise with some restrictions.

While Thailand has many wonderful things to offer, its strict laws on alcohol advertising can land you in jail if you’re not careful. As Artid Sivahansaphan plans to appeal his conviction, it remains to be seen whether this law will change or remain the same. In the land of prostitution, it’s ok to hurt another human being – well, not really, prostitution is illegal, but tolerated and very popular – just don’t promote delicious beer.

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